Governments and sexuality
Governments the world over are obsessed with regulating the sexuality of their citizens. Without getting into the histories and cultures of other countries, in this article, I limit myself to the country and people I know somewhat – Indian Hindus.
Just read in some newspaper that a call girl racket was busted. Okay, great. Now, what exactly was the horror of that racket? Prostitution. Oh my God!!!! What is this country coming to? We never used to have prostitutes before!
The question to ask is why was it a racket and why couldn’t it be a legitimate business?
Why is it that laws are getting passed allowing gay marriages? Why can’t existing laws banning it, if any be removed or it be publicly made clear that there are no such laws, if there aren’t?
You understand of course, that in modern India, Bharat couldn’t rule India in Ram’s absense because he wouldn’t be a legal heir and there is no mention of him being adopted? Ever thought of King Bharat as a bastard? Seems wrong, doesn’t it? So what if his mother wasn’t her husband’s first wife? I don’t know. Its apparently the Hindu Marriage Act – more Hindu than the Hindu epics.
For all the Hindutva guys yell about encroaching Christianity or Islam, they only seem concerned with the population sizes, not the influence changing our culture itself. That’s okay. In fact, with our oldfound western morality (well, this sneaked in long ago), most of the Hindutva guys will consider all it a matter of pride and good character to be monogamous.
So, someone tell me, what are the words for monogamy, adultery, etc in Indian languages? The closest we come is somewhat like ‘loyal’ or ‘extra-marital relation’. One is generic and can be applied to anything from a dog to God and the other is a description with no judgment in its meaning. We haven’t even been making an issue of them long enough for them to have their own words, yet we think this is how our “real society” is.
We have lost many things to this kind of thought:
- Institutions like devdasis etc, who have often been integral to the survival of many of our ancient art forms had no equivalent in the western culture and got generalized to prostitution with all its connotations of sin and worthy of punishment, etc etc. Exploitation increased, and we shut these people down ‘for their own good’. Yet, today, if a group of people is exploited, the general idea is to protect them, create laws, awareness, etc etc.
- Prostitutes themselves used to serve an important function in society. Sex. Men want sex. (women want it too, but that’s a whole other article). They can get it from wives, if they are married. They can get it from girlfriends if they have one. They can coerce some female into having sex with them (which is rape – reported or not). The urge is fundamental. Prostitutes were a way of getting that need fulfilled legitimately, without being ashamed of having a bodily function. Today, most men are so focused on sex, that finding a life partner is more about the highlight of being able to have sex than a sharing of lives. We can never get rid of prostitution, but we punished them for our desires that we had “discovered” were sin. We made them illegal. If they didn’t exist, men wouldn’t be immoral, you see!
- Followers of the Yellamma cult who essentially renounce their lives to willing service of society – no holds barred. This can be helping you out in the fields or sex – whatever. Whatever the people need. In a way it is a profound thought. Soul deep service. Just because it happens that men want a sexual service more often than anything else (surprise!), they got called prostitutes. Frustrated men often abused these people, and they are now illegal ‘for their own good’.
- Eunuchs. Okay, we used to have eunuchs in regular society. In fact, some traditional roles were meant for eunuchs – like guarding harems for instance. They were considered auspicious. Suddenly forms started worrying about Mr/Mrs and they vanished only to reappear at street signals. Then, we started hating them for being leeches on our precious money as though anyone forces you to pay them. Oh wait, they did. They needed money to survive. They did force and threaten to expose themselves. Now they are criminals. Or they come and do vulgar dances at festive occasions and gullible orthodox people pay them. They should take jobs and become productive citizens of society. So, how many eunuchs did you hire in your professional career?
- One man marries one woman. This used to not necessarily be the case. Men used to have many wives, and until very recent decades, women in the Lahaul Spiti region used to marry all the brothers in a family (except one who became a monk) in order to keep population low and maximize family resources and prevent division of limited cultivable land. Banned. That is immoral somehow. As a side effect, a man can marry a woman, go to a city for work, marry another, and whenever he gets fed up of her, walk away. Their marriage is not legal, since he was already married before.
- The gay thingy. How is it anyone’s business what people do with each other as long as they do you no harm? About the gay “thingy”, I think the Hindu Marriage Act doesn’t actually state that marriage must happen between a man and woman. Any lawyer with an opinion?
- Oh how I wish if we had to import sexual attitudes because ours weren’t up to gora standards, we had imported them from a country like France, where your sexuality is a celebrated part of you and not something to be uniformed away. Take for example that easy kiss in greeting, which could be totally meaningless, or it could send a delightful tingle through you, because you recognize that you are in the company of an attractive person. Compare that with the “platonic friends” and monogamous dating we see in India, where dating already seems to equate an engagement in social terms.
Making sex under 18 illegal when the body starts desiring it at puberty is not going to make it go away.
In fact, I think for healthy marriages, people should have at least a few affairs before. You don’t buy a shoe without trying it out, but its ok with a person. And no, I’m not objectifying people. I am saying that people simply have no clue what to expect, and we have an understanding of sex that is extremely guilt ridden, unhealthy and judgmental.
The whole illegitimacy around sex is what makes people take a lot of marriage decisions they wouldn’t if not for the sheer shame of sex otherwise. Or they have a sexual relationship, and its natural conclusion is assumed to be marriage. This is a social blindness upheld by governments.
I have no clue why governments are so obsessed with regulating sexual lives of people. Seriously, I mean, now that men and men can have sex and women and women can have sex, the next time a question of polyandry comes up, we need to get on the streets AGAIN? I mean, seriously, can’t we just get rid of the damn “alloweds” already?
It is bizarre that a couple on the street in the middle of the night can be harrassed by cops, even if they are not doing anything that may be considered indecent (been there, done that) just for being of different genders and out at night, when more serious stuff like domestic abuse has no initiative beyond a few ads and drunk drivers are fined and allowed back on the streets indefinitely.
Really, are prostitutes providing sexual services to those who want them a bigger menace?
Frankly, prostitutes probably save hundreds of women from rape by men desperate to ‘have some’ who have no social opportunities. Is it not better that a man who would pay for sex even if it is illegal gets it, than him trying to get women into his bed? The prostitute is willing, if for a different than recommended reason. Or does the government truly expect its citizens to stay away from sexual experiences unless they can get married?
Making prostitution legal would help investigate human trafficking, create protections for them, establish standards of emotional, physical, financial and medical safety.
Strange that the Hindutva guys don’t have an issue with this Christian morality import that delegitimizes a whole section of our society.
The illegal status of prostitution also has indirect negative connotations for dating and pre-marital relationships among conservative people. If a woman has sex with a man not her husband, she gets a social stigma. If it is an ‘enlightened’ or ‘modern’ society, the man also gets the stigma – possibly a worse one – of using a woman for sex. Apparently, if you have sex with a woman, you MUST like her enough to get married, or you are an a$hole. No changing your mind. Heck divorces are more acceptable socially than unmarried sex. 😀
Quite stupid. All this nonsense comes from seeing unmarried sex as evil. Casual sex as worse, and casual sex for money as unspeakably worse. Apparently, casual sex to keep the husband happy so that he doesn’t hit her is fine – since its not money exchanging hands.
Jaago India, get a life!